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Originally uploaded by streunerin

MIT’s SIMILE has announced 2 new projects in their blog: Timeplot and Potluck.

Timeplot is a DHTML-based AJAXy widget for plotting time series and overlay time-based events over them. Timeplot extends our existing Timeline widget to provide the ability to overlay time series over existing Timeline event data.

I have used Timeline a few times and I’ve loved it. I can’t wait to try out Timeplot. Plotting time-based events and time series data together is somehting missing in Swivel and Many Eyes. You will be able to plot a stock price chart with its news overlay like Google Finance. I’ve found the website stats example very interesting. Have you seen anything like that?

Why another charting tool? Timeplot FAQ answers:

  • it’s fully written in javascript and DHTML (you can use regular HTML web developer tools such as Firebug to check out its internals, debug it or modify it)
  • it doesn’t require any plugin to be installed in your browser
  • it doesn’t require any software to be installed on the server
  • it’s based on Timeline’s code so it’s naturally capable of reusing event data and mash it up with time series
  • it’s highly modular: you can write your own time series processing algorithms or your own layout geometries and add them directly from your pages (without having to wait for us to add them).
  • it’s open source software (under a BSD license)

Potluck is a Web user interface that lets casual users, those without programming skills and data modeling expertise, mash up data themselves. (From the research paper)

  • It allows the user to merge fields from different data sources, so that they are treated identically for sorting, filtering, and visualization. Fields are merged using simple drag and drop of field names.
  • It provides an efficient means for the user to clean up data syntactically, homogenize data formats, and extract fields syntactically embedded within existing fields, all through the application of simultaneous editing.
  • It supports faceted browsing to let users explore and identify subsets of data of interest or subsets of data that need alignment and clean up

Watch the screencast. We don’t have much Exhibit-powered pages to play with. I can’t think of any interesting mash up with Potluck (yet).

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EuroFoo schedule
Originally uploaded by silent-penguin.

David Huynh of the MIT Simile project is to give a talk on Exhibit at WWW 2007! [via Simile blog]

There are many interesting talks during the 5 days conference. Tim Berners-Lee is there as plenary speaker, too!

How do people plan the days at a conference? Although I don’t go the conference I have checked the confabb. There are 5 entries of WWW2007, but it’s shame that none of them have sessions nor speakers information.

Check out the Exhibit conference program browser made by David using the WWW2007 program XML data set. Nice one.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could update your Google Calendar or Spreadsheet with your selected sessions?

While googling I came across Sweet Tools (Sem Web), an excellent example of Google Spreadsheet and Exhibit and a great post on Exhibit by Michael K. Bergman

Lastly I want to quote this (again) by David Huynh

So, small data sets are a big deal
if we make them
usefully browsable, readily RE-usable, and so easy to publish.

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Timeline: Alan Johnston Missing
Originally uploaded by Lilly.

You may have tried Google Spreadsheet to Map wizard that was mentioned in the Google Map API Blog by now. Nice and easy, isn’t it? It’s part of JSON support for Gdata. So I gave it a whirl.

I instantly thought I would use it to populate SIMILE Timeline.

First l looked for a practical source of data and I chose BBC’s Timeline of Alan Johnston to show support for him. I have created a spreadsheet manually, but I believe it’s worth doing. Here it is – Alan Johnston missing in a SIMILE Timeline widget.

There are JSON examples at Google Code. I used Google Doodle calendar in Timeline as template. Also check the Timeline Wiki for more examples.

I’ve found Michael Bolin’s JSON Inspector very useful when checking JSON output.

Note that I used the BBC’s favicon link as icon for Timeline’s event object, which is shown in FireFox, but not in IE.

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TED Talks Visualization
Originally uploaded by Lilly.

The TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) launched the new website, which was also featured as “Giving Away Information, but Increasing Revenue” at New York Times. I am looking forward to exploring the new site and watching great talks again and again.

The innovative navigation in Flash showing groups of talks in different size is enjoyable. They also provide a simple list view.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could browse talks in SIMILE Exhibit? Is there any chance for them to make all talks’ meta data available in XML? Yahoo! Pipes could create a JSON feed for Exhibit from the XML.

Sorry for not having any implementation here, but just throwing an idea first.

Related Posts: British History Timeline
Originally uploaded by Lilly.

BBC has huge news archives and many interesting Timeline pages:

More here. They are all static HTML pages. However, they made great effort to visualize/mashup some of them using Flash.

I hope BBC “Open Data” under Creative Common licenses soon.

It would be very handy if the data were available in XML. Microformats (hCalendar) could be used to describe each timeline event. Then, Microformats parser in Yahoo! Pipe would become really useful.

Yahoo! Pipes has a cross-domain policy file. You can use Yahoo! Pipes with RSS or JSON output. Then BBC’s Timeline data could be visualized in SIMILE Exhibit, even in your own Flash.

Yahoo! Pipes is so exciting.

While googling I came across Matthew Somerville who has done a fantastic job on BBC News Archives. He uses SIMILE Timeline in BBC News Story Timeline. I hope he will try SIMILE Exhibit one day.

Related Posts:

I have looked at SIMILE Timeline, a DHTML-based AJAX widget for visualizing time-based events, at work and found it very interesting.

David Huynh, the author of Timeline, has released Exhibit– lightweight structured data publishing framework that lets you create web pages with support for sorting, filtering, and rich visualizations by writing only HTML and optionally some CSS and Javascript code.

It’s like Google Maps and Timeline, but for structured data normally published through database-backed web sites. Exhibit essentially removes the need for a database or a server side web application. Its Javascript-based engine makes it easy for everyone who has a little bit of knowledge of HTML and small data sets to share them with the world and let people easily interact with them.

Check out examples here and here. There are good documentations. I will definitely try it out at work.

He says that Exhibit has been inspired by Tim Berners-Lee’s Tabulator into which his Timeline has been integrated. Interesting.

Personally I prefer Exhibit to Tabulator because the data is stored in JSON files.

Exhibit data models are RDF graphs; these data models can be converted into RDF without loss. However, the Exhibit data model is a sub-model of RDF, as described below. This design choice allows for specialized, simple syntax (based on JSON) for rapid authoring. For simple, small data sets, we believe that Exhibit data models are sufficiently expressive. An Exhibit data model contains a set of items, each having a type and several properties.

via Danny Ayers


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